Ranking Innovation in Asia – Does it matter?

Written by Dr. Suraya Sulaiman


Where is Asia heading to? What is needed for innovation in Asia to blossom even faster? Both, very common matters which have been scrutinized and debated umpteenth of times.

Dr Bruno Lanvin was in Kuala Lumpur recently for the World Innovation Forum 2013, talking about an Innovation -Driven Malaysia. Sharing his views based on analysis of INSEAD’s Global Innovation Index (GII), he also doled out some simple yet strong advice for Asians.

There were some fundamental aspects that were interesting:

Firstly, his definition of innovation. Innovation is a Mindset! A mindset which is influenced by the environment, culture and education.

Secondly, ‘you can’t build what you can’t measure.’ This is where the INSEAD GII perspective comes in. Countries should use the parameters as a gauge, not so much to compare oneself with thy neighbors but as an internal barometer of individual performance. Where should resources be allocated? How can the outputs measured be enhanced? What input parameters should be intensified?

Both points are probably nothing new to those who are familiar with the realm of innovation. His views on how to build the mindset for innovation were also crisp: have a respect for failure, be open and inject freshness.

Herein lies the dilemma; how do we measure all of these ‘mindset’ indicators? How do we measure the innovation culture that is prevalent in Asian organizations? And how do we compare our performance with those of other Asian countries?

For Asia to succeed in inverting the global economic axis, we will need to be more conscientious in inculcating innovation into every tier of talent present. Employers will need to understand current perceptions of innovation, gauge satisfaction of existing innovation processes, and identify key drivers and barriers for innovation to happen in their organization. With this, resources can be easily allocated and maximized. Asia will need to come together to collate ‘best practices’ that work in Asian operating environments, and not benchmark our companies against those in a different work culture.

Let us measure where we’re at, then we can build a stronger innovation process and culture!

* Alpha Catalyst Consulting, in collaboration with Cambridge University is currently doing a survey on the practice of innovation within organizations in Asia. Help us gain a more robust data set by sharing practices in your organization. Take the survey here to help us all better understand in Asia and let innovation flourish.

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About Author

About Author

Dr. Suraya Sulaiman

Dr. Suraya Sulaiman is the Executive Director at Alpha Catalyst Consulting Sdn.Bhd. She specializes in innovation culture and capability, helping organizations address their growth and transformational challenges, through innovation. She works closely with internal cross functional teams to identify the resources and roles necessary to expedite innovation while simultaneously building their capacity to lead and drive innovation. These have materialized as new strategies and business concepts for the client. Dr. Suraya has also played a crucial role in the development of various innovation strategies and roadmaps, at a national level. She co-authored the chapter on Stimulating Innovation in Large Organizations for the National Innovation Strategy and subsequently was involved in developing the Roadmap for Open Innovation initiatives for Multimedia Development Corporation. In 2010, she had also co-authored the book ‘Leading InnovAsian: Embedding Innovation Culture in Malaysian Organizations.’ Her latest phase of exposure was at Cambridge University, where she delved deep into elements of Innovation Leadership and Culture in large organizations.

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